As I walked into my house the other day, distracted with thoughts of what to make for dinner for our houseguests, I was greeted by a sweet scent of ginger and curry wafting through the door. I was famished after a long day and was downright tickled to find a delicious terrine of spinach, chickpeas, and Indian spices stewing on my stovetop. I sighed, thinking how pleasant it was to have houseguests after all!
My dear friend Jackie and her Indian husband, Habib, were staying a few nights on their way up to Maine. As I lifted the lid and took in the tantalizing aroma, I was transported back to Jackie and Habib’s wedding in a Tribeca loft, where Habib’s mother had seemingly spent weeks preparing the most sumptuous Indian fare for their wedding reception. I had heard from Jackie that Habib had inherited his mother’s cooking skills as well as their old family kitchen secrets, but I had never experienced it firsthand. Turns out, anyone can enjoy this home made Indian fare without spending hours in the kitchen.
Starving as I was, I spooned some brown basmati rice into a bowl and smothered it with the spinach and chickpeas. When Habib appeared from the guestroom, I was licking the last of the spinach from my dish. “You’re going to have to tell me how you made this,” I begged him, as I pictured him standing over the stove… stirring, tasting, and adjusting the spices until he achieved just the right balance.
“You’re not going to believe this, but I dumped in a bag of frozen chopped spinach and added a box of Indian-spiced chick peas I picked up at Whole Foods… I may have added a bit of Muchi curry but that’s not even really necessary!” And thus, a whole new chapter of meals was unleashed in my home…..
The product Habib was referring to was the Chick Peas Curry – or Pidi Chana—made by Kitchens of India. They have a whole line of outstanding, heat and serve dishes that come in an aluminum pouch tucked inside an unassuming yellow box… a box I would have NEVER in my wildest dreams picked up off the shelf had I not smelled and tasted it in my very own home.
Scanning the list of ingredients, there is nothing that you wouldn’t find in your kitchen… except perhaps pomegranate seed powder and tea leaves extract! I have also sampled the Black Gram Lentils Curry – or Dal Bukhara – as well as the Diced Potato and Pea Curry – Aloo Mutter. Another company, Tasty Bite, offers a similar line of products that are equally aromatic and delicious… including Punjab Eggplant, Bengal Lentils, and Jaipur Vegetables.
All of these can be simply heated and eaten with bread, or served over rice. I have taken to tossing them in with baby spinach or even sautéed ground turkey or beef, and serving it over brown basmati rice for a really quick, impressive meal… that is, if you don’t tell anyone it pretty much came out of a box!